How to Keep Cars Sellable

How to Keep Cars Sellable

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Ever tried to sell a car online or trade one in? Getting a good price quickly is the aim of the game.

When it’s time to upgrade your car, a quick resale of your old one can be crucial.

Here’s how to sell a car without it sitting online for weeks.

Type of Car

When buying a car, it’s hard to imagine yourself selling it in the future. However, there are certain types of vehicles and design trends that attract certain types of buyers.

For example, a smaller hatchback might attract first car buyers, students and the like. Larger SUVs might suit families and sports/performance cars a younger crowd.

In Australia, utes and SUVs are reigning kings as far as popularity goes. Brands like Toyota, Ford, Hyundai and Mazda command huge popularity.

Here are the numbers over the last five years:

Top 3 Best Selling cars 2020:
1. Toyota Hilux
2. Ford Ranger
3. Toyota RAV4

Top 3 Best Selling cars 2019:
1. Toyota HiLux
2. Ford Ranger
3. Toyota Corolla

Top 3 Best Selling cars 2018:
1. Toyota HiLux
2. Ford Ranger
3. Toyota Corolla

Top 3 Best Selling cars 2017:
1. Toyota HiLux
2. Ford Ranger
3. Toyota Corolla

Top 3 Best Selling cars 2016:
1. Toyota HiLux
2. Toyota Corolla
3. Hyundai i30

Other consistently high sellers include:
Mazda 3
Mazda CX-5
Mitsubishi Triton
Kia Cerato

If selling a car to someone else in the future is a concern for you, buy something popular as you’ll have a large pool of potential buyers.

Other Points That Help Sell a Car

Service History

Something that any used car buyer fears are buying a lemon. Is it going to cost me a lot of money as soon as I buy it? Is the seller trying to unload a damaged car?

Ideally, you’ll have all service logbooks carried out by the manufacturer. A huge brag in used cars ads is ‘always serviced by Toyota’ and ‘full-service history’.

Depending on the brand, most qualified mechanics are able to complete a manufacturer service as per the logbook. So if you’ve taken your car somewhere else other than the dealership, not to worry.

If your car has a major service due around the time you’re selling it, expect buyers to notice and haggle down the price. Often, it’s best to get any due services done and let people know in your ad description: ‘Recently serviced, receipts included’.

Tip: Make sure to add a photo of your owner’s manual, service logbook and other paperwork that came with the vehicle. Buyers like to see everything present and correct.

Paint Condition

Noticeable in photos and even more so in the flesh, paint is a key selling point. Almost all buyers knock down the price (or at least try to) for imperfections on paintwork.

Naturally, buyers want to see cars in as good a condition as possible. Always wash your car before taking photos and ideally, before anyone comes to inspect it.

Use a ceramic coating, wax or polish to bring out the best of your paint. A little extra elbow grease can result in a quick sale and hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.

Tip: If your car has a few scratches, make sure to let potential buyers know in the photos or description in the ad. It’s easy to lose trust and credibility if buyers suspect sellers of hiding things.


Modifying a car is a lot of fun for a lot of people. However, when trying to sell a car, they can act as a double-edged sword. Many people who sell cars they’ve spent thousands of dollars worth of mods on are shocked to see the low prices offered.

It’s next to impossible to regain the costs of expensive modifications on used cars. Most mods that enhance the looks and performance of cars typically turn away buyers as they fear repair costs, past treatment of the vehicle and police defects.

Some modifications like lowered suspension look great but are deemed unroadworthy by police and can result in vehicle defects. This means the car is no longer legally drivable on the road.

Modifications that typically make a car hard to sell:

  • Aftermarket turbos & superchargers
  • Body kits
  • Certain suspension modifications
  • Loud exhausts
  • Bucket seats, roll cages and other race equipment

If your car has been professionally and legally modified by a reputable workshop, and you can prove it, it might work in your favour.

Modifications that typically don’t affect a car’s ability to sell:

  • Rims/tyres (Adding legal aftermarket wheels can attract buyers. But note that a large increase in size may affect the speedometer).
  • Legal window tint
  • Sound systems (Professionally installed)
  • Bullbars on suitable vehicles
  • Some off-road equipment
  • Tow bars
  • Weather shields/protectors

Generally, buyers won’t want to part ways with thousands of dollars unless they know and trust what they’re getting into.

Tip: If you decide to modify your vehicle, make sure to keep the original factory parts you replace so you can include them in the vehicle when you sell it. Try to avoid damaging things like the chassis, firewall and dashboard.

Reason For Sale

Most buyers get suspicious as to why people sell their cars. ‘Is there something wrong with it?’, ‘Are they hiding damage?’, ‘Was it written off and repaired?’.

Make sure to honestly say why you’re selling your car. Sometimes tough buyers may even ask for proof. For example, if your reason is ‘selling due to a new work vehicle’ but the work vehicle is not in your driveway when someone comes to inspect the car for sale, they may get suspicious.

Some common reasons why people sell cars:

  • Selling due to growing family
  • Selling due to upgrade
  • Selling as no longer need a large car

Tip: ALWAYS be as honest as possible when selling a car.

Type of Owner

Something that can often get overlooked is what kind of person previously drove the vehicle. Was the interior possibly damaged due to pets and awkward cargo or passengers? Was the car driven hard and fast or dangerously? Was it often taken off-road on sand or rocky terrain?

If this was the case, it may not be a deal-breaker but will likely turn away buyers, especially if they get the impression you’re not being honest.

Present yourself as a calm and professional seller as you’d expect if you were buying a car.

Tip: Buyers like to deal with sellers who are polite and honest. Never swear when dealing with buyers or insult their knowledge, even if they criticise your car or offer low-ball amounts. Chances are the platform you’re selling the vehicle on allows people to rate you as a seller.

At the end of the day

Know the signs you need a new car. Most people will trade in or sell a vehicle privately in order to fund a new one. To know what kind of finance you could be looking at, get a quick quote.

Positive is able to work with trade ins, privately sold/bought and dealer new and used vehicles.

Tip: Check out our guide on selling cars privately to make sure your car gets the most attention.

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